By Mike McCombs
The journalists of The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette announced Wednesday in a press release that they have taken the first steps toward unionizing.
According to the release, more that 80 percent of eligible reporters, photographers and news producers have signed cards authorizing representation by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, Local 32025 of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
The employees have requested voluntary recognition from management.
The two newspapers, which share staff and essentially function as one newspaper, are currently owned by McClatchy. It has finalized its sale to Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund, for $312 million. The sale came roughly six months after McClatchy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The sale follows a decade of staff reductions and losses. In general, newsroom employment at newspapers in the U.S. dropped by 51% between 2008 and 2019, according to Pew Research. Staffing at the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette has mirrored that, dropping from more than 40 reporters to just 11 full-time reporters and visual journalists, according to the release.
This story will be updated.
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com. He was employed at the Beaufort Gazette from 1997 to 1998 and then again as sports editor of The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette from 2012 to 2016.